Monday, July 19, 2010

What do a few hundred hours add up to?

A completed Master Spinner Level 2 workbook! I finished up the various and sundry assignments this morning, and now have the final project to do. This was a lot of work. Seriously, several hundred hours went in to research, sampling, combing and carding, and spinning. There are over 40 skeins in these workbooks, almost all more than 10 yards of 2-ply. When spun, in some cases I spun up to 70 yards to get it right.

It's a LOT of work.

There was textured yarns to create...

Some alpaca to blend and show suitable for a shawl...

Some fiber to blend to make it easier to spin ...

A bunch of dyed fiber to blend to make a full 12-color color wheel...

There was even learning new skills like needlepoint, to show I can spin yarns suitable for it...

(I never said it was _good_ needlepoint. But trust me, that's a sheep. I swear.)

And all that doesn't mention the llama and mohair blends I made, the hours of research in to spinning songs and poems, the wonderful photographs of different spindles, and much more. And just think, this is only Level 2! What body of work will I have created by Level 6???

I was going to go ahead and turn it in this week, but I thought about it and checked with my grader and instead I'll be bringing it to the Golden Gate Fiber Institute this year so folks can see it, learn about the program, and think about all the things they might do with yarn. I'll send it up to be graded August 16.

I really want to take a moment to thank one of my fellow Level Two-er, Kim, for helping tweak my competition bone to make sure I got this sucker finished in a timely fashion. Kim, you are a gem! Level 3 is not going to be nearly this drastic a push to the finish!!!

At this point, I won't be overlapping levels any more. Level 3 is not due until June, and while I want to finish it this year, I won't be starting Level 4 until July. Each level at this point has an in-class component to kick it off, and so I will be paced by the program. Probably just as well. I should finish up around the year 2013.

Next on my list is to just casually practice some of the things I learned in the Level 3 class, like spinning on a quill wheel and supported spindles and whatnot. I'll dive in to the program work after GGFI.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Craft Room Exploded

Or at least, it feels like it! I've been a busy fiber girl.

Last week, I spent the week in Canada at Olds College Fibre Week. I haven't been to Canada in years - last time was a day trip to Vancouver and Victoria. I'm not sure that counts. I took the Level 3 Master Spinner class, and now know how to spin more consistent cotton, how to make silk hankies, and how to get at least 25 colors out of a single natural dye pot. And I understand how to get the twists per inch I want for any given yarn - probably my favorite part. I also know that the days are too frickin' long - twilight lasted until after midnight, and the sun was up before 6am - but I still love it there. I got carded for alcohol!

I did my best to keep my purchases to a minimum, including No Fiber. Why do fiber people do that to themselves? That promise of "no, I won't increase my fiber stash. No, I will not by another fleece or blanket. I shall be a Good and Responsible Adult..." Foolish mortals, the lot of us. So, what'd I get?

LLAMA!!! Suri llama, single coated llama, and it-sure-sounded-like-a-drug-deal llama. I had never heard of suri llama before, and the second place winner was in the auction for something reasonable, so I bid on it. As I was walking away from putting my name down, I was just petting the other llama blankets on the table and I swear, one of them practically grabbed my hand. No one had bid on it, so it was very very inexpensive - $15 Canadian. So as I was pondering that, the shepherd (shepherd? That can't be right. What do you call llama farmers, anyway?) came over and we got to talking about that particular blanket, and after a while she said "you know, if you like that one, come over here. I have something you might be interested in." I followed her to a dark corner (ok, not dark, and only kind of a corner) and she pulled out this 2.5 pound bag with not one but two prime shoulder llama blanket, one a charcoal black and the other a warm black, and she said "I am just cleaning out my barn and I haven't even tried to get the VM out of these. I'll give it to you for $5." I don't think she had ever seen a blanket leave her hands so fast. So, yeah, I ended up with three lovely fantastic llama blankets. I heart them!

I also acquired a few support spindles, a Russian and a Tahkli.

Then of course there was the really interesting cotton blend...

But it wasn't all about shopping. There was the class stuff as well! We did quite a bit with cotton, enough that I finished my homework for the cotton blended with silk noil (the pink), cotton spun from ginned cotton, and cotton spun from sliver.

We also had the "25 colors from a single dye pot" exercise, which involved seeing what we could do with madder. Basically, we brought in 25 sample skeins and left 5 unmordanted, 5 mordanted with alum, 5 with iron, 5 with copper, and 5 with rhubarb leaf tea (a new one for me - this was basically mordanting with oxalic acid). From there, we mixed and matched things in to an afterbath - 5 skeins dipped in citric acid solution, 5 skeins dipped in washing soda solution, 5 skeins dipped in an iron solution, and 5 skeins dipped in a copper solution. I won't go in to all the gory details (yes, there are more details), but it was a pretty cool exercise.

Another exercise which I took care of after class was spinning on a support spindle. I had scored a lovely blend of silk, quiviut, bison, and merino and spun that up for this exercise. It was lovely, and I can't wait to do the rest!

And so now I'm home, and am totally motivated to get my Level 2 homework done and out the door so I can focus on Level 3. I met up with some lovely people (Hi Kim and Val!) and Kim and I are challenging each other to finish Level 2 as expeditiously as possible. Hey, Kim! Here's what I've got spun so far...

And all my book reports and essays are done. :-D

So, that's what's been going on! I had a great time, can't wait to go back, and am finding myself blending and spinning 8-10 hours a day since I got home. Tomorrow I'll take a break and go kayaking with my sweetheart.